February 17, 2013

Matthews Continues Hot Streak to Sink Mammoth

by Nick Salen | NLL.com

DENVER — A fourth-quarter scoring run made the difference as the Edmonton Rush (3-4) doubled up the Colorado Mammoth (2-4) by a score of 14-7 before a crowd of 17,059 on Military Appreciation Night at Pepsi Center on Saturday. With the win, Edmonton earned a weekend sweep to rebound from a 1-4 start to the season.

"It was a big weekend for us," said Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan. "We had been playing well but not getting wins and we talked a lot about that this weekend in terms of building a winning culture. Tonight, I really thought we had a hard time finding our legs early, and that happens on a back-to-back, especially coming into here."

Edmonton rookie Mark Matthews continued his hot streak in his own backyard, carrying the team in both games this weekend. The Denver University graduate finished with five goals and a team-leading six points (5+1), but admitted it was a bit of a shell shock playing for the opposite team in the Mile High City.

"It was weird, definitely weird not wearing a Denver or Colorado jersey but it is what it is," Matthews said. "We were able to come in and get a 'W', which means the world to me right now."

After a scoreless six and a half minutes, Colorado was first on the board with three goals in a span of 73 seconds. In response, Edmonton would go on a five-goal run that would extend into the second frame. The Mammoth would remain scoreless for nearly 18 minutes of game time before making it a one-goal game, going into the half down 5-4.

The teams would exchange goals in the third, but Edmonton would hold the advantage with a late goal by Curtis Knight to make it a two-score game going into the fourth quarter. Then it was all Edmonton from the faceoff by doubling their score in the final quarter, leaving an energized Pepsi Center in disbelief once again.

Adam Jones, who recorded his 100th career point in the loss, led the team with four points (2+2) and was quick to respond about Colorado's monstrous collapse in the last fifteen minutes of the game.

"I don't know, we start second-guessing our shot selection, and then one goal after the other for them kills the momentum both ways," Jones said. "We've just got to regroup, work hard this week and get ourselves prepared and come back better next week."

The goaltender shuffle resurfaced once again for the Mammoth, as Matt Roik was chased from the net early on, replaced by backup Dan Lewis, who in turned played solid until the team came crashing back down to Earth in the fourth.

"I don't know what happened," Lewis said. "We came out flat and it was just the wrong time to do so. At one point, we were down two or three, and had we come out on fire like we should have it could have been a whole different ball game."

Roik returned to the game in the fourth quarter, finishing with 17 saves on 26 shots while Lewis ended the night with 22 stops om 27 shots.

Aaron Bold played all 60 minutes for the Rush for the second time this weekend, backstopping Edmonton's defense with 34 saves, standing solid early on in the contest when the team's offense was not performing as expected, according to Keenan.

"[Aaron] Bold played extremely well," Keenan said. "We needed him early and then we finally got our offense going and ended up with a big win."

The two teams flip-flopped positions in the West Division with the outcome. Colorado now sits at the bottom of the standings tied with Minnesota as they look ahead to their East Division matchup set for next Sunday against Philadelphia. Jones went on to say that despite the circumstances, Colorado still has time to settle down before the second-half season stretch begins.

"Right now, we are too much in our own heads," he said. "I think if everyone on our team takes accountability and does what they need to do to make our team better next week, we should be alright. I think good teams battle through adversity through the year."

Edmonton meanwhile will head back home as they host Minnesota next Friday at Rexall Place.

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